Created in 1908, making it the oldest park in he pacific northwest, lies 2,332 acres of water making up Chatcolet Lake and about 5,744 acres of land known as Heyburn State Park. The park and the lake sit at the far southern end of Lake Coeur d'Alene in beautiful North Idaho and about 5 miles east of Plummer, Idaho which is within the Coeur d'Alene Indian reservation. Heyburn State Park has several RV, tent and cabin sites with good views of the lake. There is access to several trails for hiking, horseback, and the bike path called the trail of the Coeur d'Alenes. A 72 mile hard path bike trail that passes through some beautiful scenery including the bridge across the inlet to Chatcolet Lake. Even though the park has a small store a larger selection of necessities and food can be found 5 miles away in Plummer or 10 miles the other way in St. Maries. Nearby the park south of St. Maries is a place to dig for the rare star garnet. Only two places in the world have the star garnet gem. India and just south of St. Maries, Idaho.
Best Times: My favorite times to go to Heyburn State Park would be Spring and fall. Summer isn't too bad but there are usually fewer people during the spring and fall. However, if summer is the only time you can go then June would be more advantageous. You would still have the wildflowers out and the dryness of July and August still wouldn't affect your images. The cool nights, especially in Spring and Fall help to keep the air clearer during the magic hour. There are some nice fall colors in the park area, mostly yellow and red leaves mixed in with the pine trees. During the cold of the winter deer can still be found in the park. Ice fishing spots are plentiful on the lake. A good rule of thumb is that if you see people out on the lake ice fishing then it is safe. The locals know when to go out. Contact: Direct phone contact for the park is 208-686-1308. Email: [email protected] Some good sites to look at campground and general park information are http://www.visitidaho.org/attraction/parks/heyburn-state-park/ and http://parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/parks/heyburn Weather: The park hosts many year round activities such as hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, horseback riding in the spring, summer, and fall and ice fishing, wildlife viewing, and waterfowl hunting. Since the north part of Idaho is somewhat arid the average summer temperatures in summer can be in the 80's around the park. One good thing about north Idaho is the nights cool down considerably in the evening. That comes as welcome relief after a day of hiking for the good photo spots.Winter temperatures can average around the 20's to low 30's but I have seen it at times in the single digits.
Photo Experience: Take your pick. Heyburn State Park has many different areas that a photographer could easily spend all day on. Whether you drive around the park in a car, ride a bike, ride a horse, paddle, or hike, scenic vistas and abundant wildlife will be awaiting you throughout the entire park. At the north end of the lake spans an old railroad bridge that has been converted to a bicycle path that goes from near Heyburn State Park and travels 72 miles northeast though Cataldo Idaho and east of there. The north part of Lake Chatcolet also has a rocky shoreline making for excellent shoreline scenic images in the morning and evening. Along the southern border of the lake lie marshes, docks, and a place called Rocky Point marina. Driving through the park you would be hard pressed to not see deer along the sides of the road. Moose also wonder into the park but they are more difficult to spot. Several species of birds are abundant around the park. From several types of waterfowl to heron, to kingfisher, to birds of prey such as eagles and osprey. When you want to take a break from the photography during mid day the lake has some good fishing with pike, trout, bass, crappie, and perch.